How can I find a FIRST® LEGO® League team to join?
Washington State has between 550 and 600 FIRST® LEGO® League teams each year. Teams are formed in schools, community organizations, and neighborhoods. They can be formed by any interested adult willing to facilitate team logistics for about four months.
Both nationwide and within Washington, about 77% (~460) of the FIRST® LEGO® League teams are formed through schools, so the first place to look for opportunities to join a team is with your child’s school. Generally, the school-based teams are open only to students attending that institution because interest often exceeds capacity. If your child’s school does not currently have a team, you may want to work with a teacher or administrator there to help form a team within the school.
About 10% of the Washington teams are formed through community organizations such as 4-H, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Boys & Girls Clubs. Generally, this is only one of many activities that the organization facilitates for its members, but if your child is interested in one of these organizations overall, this might be an avenue to pursue in your local area.
The remaining teams in Washington are formed through homeschool groups, religious organizations or neighborhood groups of friends. While these groups are not specifically closed to other students, they do not usually engage in recruiting members.
Since finding an opportunity with an existing team may be difficult, many experienced coaches and parents advise families new to the program to start their own team. The benefits to your child and for those who have an opportunity to participate are well worth the effort. If you need additional resources or encouragement, contact us at FIRST® Washington.
How are teams judged at competitions and what awards are there for FIRST® LEGO® League teams?
FIRST® LEGO® League is known around the globe not only for what we do (the Robot Game and Project), but also how we do it, with Core Values at the heart. The rubrics used for judging reflect these three equally important aspects of FIRST® LEGO® League.
Official tournaments must follow the judging and awards structure determined by FIRST® LEGO® League. Although the audience mostly sees teams playing the Robot Game at tournaments, teams are also being judged on:
- Core Values
- Robot Design
The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary are additional tools that may be used to help facilitate discussion in the Core Values and Robot Design judging sessions at official events. FIRST® Washington will distribute instructions to teams outlining the information to be included if we require the Core Values Poster and/or the Robot Design Executive Summary at our events.
The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary will be used as part of the judging at World Festival.
- Teams must participate in all elements of a FIRST® LEGO® League competition including the Robot Game and all three judged areas in order to be eligible for any Core Award.
- Judges use the rubrics to help them determine which teams will receive awards.
- With the exception of the Robot Performance Award, awards are determined by a deliberation process, which is formulated around discussions of team performance in each category.
- If a team does not exhibit Core Values at a tournament, they may be disqualified from winning any awards – including Robot Performance – no matter how well they scored.
- Adults are strictly prohibited from directing team members or interfering with the judging process or robot rounds in any way.
- No team is allowed to win two awards, unless one of the awards is for Robot Performance. Robot Performance is the only category based solely on score.
- While they may attend other events for fun, teams are only eligible to win awards at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during the season.
Does FIRST® LEGO® League have an official policy on how teams advance to Championships from Qualifiers?Does FIRST® LEGO® League have an official policy on how teams advance to Championships from Qualifiers?
In accordance with the Participation Rules, teams are eligible for awards and advancement only at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during season. In most cases, event capacity within a region limits team participation to only one qualifying event each season.
The qualifier advancement policy is based on Champion’s Award criteria. As described above, Champion’s Award criteria require that the team, performs well in all three judged areas (Core Values, Project, and Robot Design). Teams are required to be ranked in the in the top 40% of official Robot Game scores to be considered for Champion’s Award and they must be ranked in the top 75% of official Robot Game scores to be eligible to advance.
Contact your local Partner or Tournament Director to find out how many teams will be advancing from the event you are attending. (See the official Advancement Policy).
It is possible for a team to receive a 1st Place Core Values, Project, or Robot Design Award but not advance to Championship if their Robot Performance score is ranked below the top 75% of teams at the event. A team may win 1st Place in Robot Performance but not advance to Championship due to not having performed well in one or more of the three judged areas.
I can’t find a FIRST® LEGO® League team near me. Can I start one?
Absolutely, the easiest way to join a FIRST® LEGO® League program is to start your own team. Ask your principal if your school has a team; if not, encourage your principal to identify a teacher who would be willing to start a team with your help as a team volunteer. Please let your principal know that FIRST® is a collaborative partnership with private industry professionals and educators to inspire young people towards STEM.
If a school-based team is not a possibility, you may find another youth-focused organization that can help. Scouts, 4-H, and other clubs may also support FIRST® teams.
You bring great value to the students, teams, and our community.
There are multiple ways for you to be involved. All of these avenues of participation are highly valued by our community. Students are excited to be able to work with people from the industry and feel honored that an adult from their community will contribute time to help. Some local employers even participate with employer matching funds, which can make a huge difference in helping to fund the FIRST programs. But more than that, they recognize that you are providing your time and talent to help them.
The two main avenues for participation are working directly with a local team or volunteering at a local FIRST event.
Mentoring a team
Teams rely on mentors to assist the team with a range of different tasks.
Skills needed by teams include:
- Marketing and fundraising
- Graphic design and communications
- Team organization and project management
- Software and hardware engineering
Each of our programs has varying time commitments, but each is extremely rewarding. No previous experience required.
Most of our team activities run from September through April. Mentors can work out with their team when and how they are able to contribute. Working directly with a group of students is likely the most rewarding experience you will have.
Events are staged from November through March. Event volunteers put on a great show for the students. We have several roles for you.
- Judges – Help evaluate and give feedback to teams
- Referees – Help the students play their game safely and fairly
- Field crews – Help with setup and tear down of fields, A/V
- Event Organizers – Help plan and organize events
Event volunteers are mostly an entire day, some run two days, plus a small amount of pre-event training. No experience required, we will train you by getting you involved with an event.
Are you ready? Start the registration process here.